Tuesday, May 21, 2024

South Africa star brands Ireland ‘arrogant’ as he recalls World Cup interaction

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EBEN ETZEBETH has claimed Ireland’s ‘arrogance’ was their undoing at the Rugby World Cup.

The Springbok giant cited a telling interaction after the two sides clashed in the pool stages to back up his statement.

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Being tackled by Josh van der Flier and Rónan Kelleher during Ireland’s 13-8 win
They were the world's two top-ranked teams going into the competition

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They were the world’s two top-ranked teams going into the competition
There was no storybook ending for Johnny Sexton as Ireland were knocked out 28-24 at the quarter-final stage

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There was no storybook ending for Johnny Sexton as Ireland were knocked out 28-24 at the quarter-final stage
It was a relatively weak New Zealand team compared to previous World Cups too

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It was a relatively weak New Zealand team compared to previous World Cups too
South Africa won the final, semi-final and quarter-final by one point on each occasion as they retained the trophy in typical gritty fashion

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South Africa won the final, semi-final and quarter-final by one point on each occasion as they retained the trophy in typical gritty fashionCredit: Getty

Andy Farrell’s men did of course win the battle but ultimately lose the war.

Their group game victory ended up feeling hollow as they watched on as South Africa hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup for a fourth time.

And the Irish players could do with taking a long hard look at their mindset after that 13-8 triumph according to the 32-year-old.

Speaking on The Rugby Pod, he claimed a large cohort of the squad were openly looking ahead to a rematch in the decider.

He stated: “The thing was obviously you shake the guy’s hands and probably 12 out of the 23 when I shook the hands told me, ‘See you guys in the final’.

“Because the way the logs worked out we were going to play France and they were going to play New Zealand.

“My immediate thought was, ‘Are these guys seriously not even thinking about the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-final playing against them?’

“So that remark they made, ‘See you guys in the final’, I was just like these guys are making a big mistake to look past probably one of the most dominant teams, or probably the most dominant team in the last 20 to 30 years of Test rugby.

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“I was just like, ‘Surely they can’t!’

“I mean we would never say that because we knew we had the host nation and we knew we had to pitch up to beat France in their backyard.

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“Yeah, it just felt like they were just so, so confident saying things like that, ‘See you in the final’, when you knew you had got the mighty All Blacks coming in a World Cup quarter-final.

“It’s good to be confident but you can never be arrogant in this game.

“Because that’s the thing about rugby, you can have the best season and you can have one slip-up or one missed tackle and a guy puts you on your arse.

“That is the beauty of this game – you are never on top forever.”

If true, it doesn’t speak well of the Irish setup.

And they were slow out of the traps against the All Blacks in an affair where they were constantly chasing a 10-point deficit.

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